Fantasy card game inspires new student art exhibit

Thalia Ackroyd has always loved playing games. But when her boyfriend introduced her to Magic: The Gathering, she was able to incorporate the fantasy game into another pastime and her fine arts minor.

The fifth-year English major said one of the first things she loved about the game was its artwork.

“I just think it’s really cool that a game puts so much effort into the art as well as game function,” said Ackroyd.

“I’ve always painted and I thought it would be a fun thing. I thought potentially I would use the [art] in my own [card] decks when playing the game.”

This summer, Ackroyd had the opportunity to display 30 miniature paintings the size of playing cards she created for an independent study on the walls of James Dunn Hall.

She said she was partially inspired by the community of artists who create alters, a form of art that replicates the artwork on fantasy game cards with their own artwork over top of it.

“I played the game Magic: The Gathering and it’s very popular to do alters whether by hand, by painting or design through a computer,” said Ackroyd.

She said she showed up with some alters to class when her professor, William Forestall, noticed the art and asked if she wanted to make an independent study out of it and create an exhibit.

The exhibit includes paintings of fish in the sea and mountains and trees among other things.

Her two favorite paintings are ones featuring a swamp with a lily in it and one with a scene of Fredericton’s Montgomery Street.

“I would just find pictures I’ve taken around Fredericton or Nova Scotia or just ones online I saw that I really liked and just tried to paint them,” said Ackroyd.

She said miniature painting isn’t much different from painting normal-sized paintings.

“With big canvas, you can make big strokes. It’s not as precise as needed to make a needle-size line on a page,” said Ackroyd.

“[I would think], ‘I need to lay the grass right here and it has to be two millimeters big,’ and that was more of the difficult thing for me,” said Ackroyd.

Not all her paintings were a success.

“I tried to paint this fox in the bushes but as I was painting, it looked like Nicholas Cage wearing a fox mask and I was like ‘This can’t see the light of day,’” said Ackroyd.

Most of the creations in Ackroyd’s exhibit are alts of characters from Magic: The Gathering. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

Miniature painting takes time and patience according to Ackroyd. It took her six months to complete the 30 paintings.

“Often I would get a headache from just staring at something like this for hours,” said Ackroyd.

“It’s a fun challenge to do miniature. Like to try to get the same amount of detail in [as in a normal painting].”

The exhibit was first open to the public mid-June and lasted until mid-September.

“I really enjoyed doing this project and I want to go back and do more,” said Ackroyd.

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